Though the Phillies are sporting a -12 run differential on the year, they may represent the most viable threat to the Mets division lead in the National League East. The Nationals are 3-7 in their last ten, now seven games behind the Mets, and the cavalry may not be coming. The Braves know they’ll be without their biggest star, and despite having the best run differential in the division right now at +26, it’s hard to consider Atlanta as a viable threat without Ronald Acuna Jr. The Marlins are 41-57, 12 games out, and they’re in full-on sell mode.
That leaves the Phillies. Though they’re exactly .500 at 48-48, that leaves them right where they’ve been for most of the Bryce Harper era. This team didn’t re-sign J.T. Realmuto and hire Dave Dombrowski to run the front office just to stand pat, however. Not only are rival executives expecting the Phillies to be aggressive this trade deadline, but they think the Phillies will be willing to exceed the luxury tax, if that’s what it takes to find the right upgrades, per Jon Heyman of the MLB Network (via Twitter).
As for what the Phillies might be pursuing, there are plenty of avenues to improve the roster. Heyman suggests they could use a starter, multiple relievers and a centerfielder. Alec Bohm has not been good at third base (-0.1 fWAR), but they’re not close to moving on from the 25-year-old former top prospect.
The bullpen’s shortcomings have been thoroughly noted, and it now seems a near certainty that they’ll add at least one bullpen arm. The question is whether they’ll shell out for a premium arm like the Cubs’ Craig Kimbrel, or if they’ll target cheaper options like the Pirates’ Richard Rodriguez or Ian Kennedy of the Rangers.
They could aim even lower and shop in the non-premium section of opposing bullpens where there are plenty of viable options for the right price: the Cubs’ Ryan Tepera and Andrew Chafin, the Twins’ Caleb Thielbar and Tyler Duffey, or Anthony Bass, Dylan Floro, and Yimi Garcia of the Marlins are a few names worth checking in on.That said, if there’s any team that might look for a fire-tested closer to take the reins, Philly would be it.